Contra (NES)

Contra Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: February 1988

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

It’s been requested for quite some time now, but here is Contra on NES! The aliens have invaded Earth and it’s up to Lance and Bill (Code Name: Scorpion and Mad Dog) to take those extraterrestrial pukes to their graves. Contra is a well celebrated game as keeping Konami on the map. This is something I can’t argue, as they make good games and bad ones, too.

I loves my Spread Gun.

You start up running to the right shooting (with the B Button) anything that gets in your way. It’s also important to jump (with the A Button) over bullets and other obstacles. At specific points in each stage, there are capsules you can shoot that will release powerups. R is for rapid fire, which increases the speed of your shot. This compounds with any of the guns you collect. F is for the Fire Ball Gun, which shoots in a looping pattern. I personally hate the fireball gun and would rather have the weak default gun.

The Waterfall boss can catch you off guard if you aren’t careful.

The Machine Gun is a slightly stronger gun that shoots as long as you hold the button, which is much more useful. L gives you the Laser Gun, which is my second favorite weapon. It’s super strong, even if it’s kind of difficult to control. The best gun of all is S, the Spread Gun. Using the Spread Gun, you can beat Contra with very little difficulty. As long as you go slow and don’t run and jump head long into bad situations.

The Boss of Base 2 giving me fits.

Each level has a boss that ranges from easy to very easy to rather difficult. You gain an extra life every 30,000 points, which is helpful if you’re trying to play without the Konami Code. The side scrolling levels are very platforming heavy, as if you miss a jump, you’ll likely fall down a pit. The two base levels are pseudo-3D and have you shooting at walls and bad guys. I find that if you duck whenever bullets head at you, you’ll have no problem getting through the levels.

Flamethrowers on a timer.

Honestly, I don’t really have any big problems through the Snowfields of level 5. If I make a mistake somewhere, it’s usually taking the boss of the waterfall too lightly or standing up too early in the second base. Typically, if I have a Spread Gun, I’m good until the annoying platforming of the energy zone. The B Force Field powerup is a necessity to not have to deal with the stupid flame throwers.

Giant phallic alien.

The last level threw me for a loop when I was a kid. I didn’t realize I was fighting aliens, so when I was in what seemed to be innards, I was confused. All the creepy sphincters on the wall. The giant phallic shrimp spewers with teeth. The face huggers that the heart of the alien spawns. All of that was creepy as a kid. You need to get that alien heart rate up and then you can enjoy the ending.

Graphics: 3.5

The graphics are very good. I put them in the top echelon so far on the 8-bit systems.

Sound: 3.5

The music is great. The opening stage is a classic tune that has stuck in my mind for over 30 years.

Gameplay: 4.0

There are only a couple of things that I would regard as cheap, but once you encounter them, you don’t succumb to them again.

Difficulty: 4.0

This is the right level of difficulty for an old school game. It’s hard, if not impossible when you begin, but over time, it becomes second nature.

Fun Factor: 3.5

The only reason this doesn’t get top marks is because I get frustrated when I make a mistake that I know I shouldn’t.

Overall Grade: 3.7

Contra earns an A-. It’s top notch NES game. We’ve already hit what could be the best game of 1988 and it’s only February. There’s still plenty to look forward too, though.

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